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Premier urges 'people-centered' approach to serving rural communities

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Premier Su Tseng-chang received a Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) briefing Thursday on improving communication and transport services for rural communities. In these locations, problems are more pronounced for remote residents, the poor, the elderly and residents with limited access to information, the premier said. Taiwan should switch from the profit-driven thinking of the past and return to a "people-centered" approach: As long as one person or one place is in need, the government should meet those needs and bring in private-sector resources to build the last mile to communities at the end of the line.

Over the past five years, the MOTC has devoted some NT$18 billion (US$636.8 million) to improving road surfaces and repairing road foundations in rural areas. Motor vehicle services are more widely accessible as well. The central government has loosed regulations, integrated resources across ministries, and collaborated with local governments and private companies to bring bus and taxi services to over 100 remote communities. Additionally, the "BuBu Sharing" ride-share pilot program has been introduced to transport people to hospitals, schools and other vital destinations. As of the end of 2020, public transportation services covered 88.3 percent of rural communities, Premier Su said.

The MOTC should put people at the center of its work, supported by vehicles and transport infrastructure, Premier Su said. But he said that transportation is not the sole purview of the MOTC; all ministries and agencies should cooperate in assembling and coordinating resources, including funding, subsidies, avenues and systems for the common good. In addition, agencies responsible must take the initiative to review and discuss services provided by motor vehicle stations as well as actions to loosen and amend laws and regulations.

The methods used in these efforts must also keep up with the times, said the premier. Except in cases where confidentiality and national security concerns prevail, tools and methods such as application design can be applied on the cloud to quickly take stock of needs in remote areas, and promptly provide effective solutions and services.

Government resources may be limited, but the power of the private sector is boundless. Premier Su expressed hope that by combining strengths to draw together and guide public-private partnerships, improvements in remote-area transportation can be achieved.

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